The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Histomorphometric differentiation of human and nonhuman bone


1Department of Biology, University of Indianapolis, 2Forensic Anthropology Center, Texas State University - San Marcos, 3Division of Anatomy, The Ohio State University

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In both bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, histomorphological differentiation of human and nonhuman bone is often utilized as a cost effective method for distinguishing species from fragments that cannot be categorized by gross morphology alone. Often, this involves observation of either osteon banding or plexiform bone as an indicator of nonhuman animals. When only secondary osteons are visible, however, histomorphology alone cannot differentiate between human and nonhuman bone. This study tests two recently published histomorphometric methods that use osteon area (On.Ar) and/or osteon circularity (On.Cr) variables to differentiate human and nonhuman bone. A diverse sample of nonhuman mammalian bone (n=20) was compared with human femora and rib samples (n=50). Standard protocols for histomorphometric data collection were followed. The variables were measured for a maximum of 50 osteons per cross section and an average value for each sample was calculated. The first method used the On.Cr variable in a regression equation, while the second used both On.Ar and On.Cr in a discriminant function analysis (DFA). Results show that using On.Cr alone provided 100% correct classification for nonhuman bone, and 52% correct classification for human bone. Using both On.Ar and On.Cr in the DFA, however, separated human from nonhuman bone with 61% correct classification for nonhuman bone and 100% correct classification for human bone. The results of this study indicate that combining On.Ar and On.Cr as discriminating variables not only improves the ability to distinguish human from nonhuman bone, but is a more conservative approach that does not risk misclassifying human bone.

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